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Heh. You know, I *keep trying* to get the base troop statblock into a Bestiary. I think you guys need to show up en masse at GenCon with torches and pitchforks and corner the powers-that-be if you want to see it!
Right now, you can build the statblock from scratch using the monster creation charts in the bestiaries, just like you're building any other creature. Don't get hung up on the fact that it's a group of smaller creatures--just build the creature appropriate for CR, like you're building a giant or something, and use the RMD statblock as a guide to give it abilities like ranged attacks, etc. Keep in mind that the sum is almost always LESS than the total of its parts. After all, if you actually individually rolled attacks and damage for a thousand rat statblocks that are actually in a swarm instead of relying on the adjusted numbers from the swarm statblock, you'd turn a 10th-level PC into a bloody skeleton in a single round. Just roll with the numbers right of the monster creation charts, and apply the subtype when you're done! =-)
Most troops of regular humanoid type creatures are in the 8-12 hit dice range. I haven't really branched out into statblocks of creatures more powerful than, say, humans, goblins, orcs, skeletons, zombies, and lemures, but you could do it for anything, really. It just scales up quick, so I try to reserve it for lower-CR basic creatures to keep them relevant at higher levels as groups of mooks.
ALSO: My friend Charlie Bell wrote several troop statblocks for his "Armies of Cheliax" article in Wayfinder #11. Look it up--he rocked it. I had a chance to review it when he was working on it, and he absolutely nailed it. That gives you a few more statblocks at your disposal.
That's incorrect, DMW. Due to a class with 54 spirits taking up a huge chunk of the book's wordcount, the number of spirits was scaled down to 6, which each one representing an embodiment of classic heroic archetypes (small "a") which correspond to the six mythic tiers. Jason stated they promise to find a home for the 54 in a future product!
For the sake of clarity here, I was actually the one that uttered the Occult Bestiary "spoiler" at that seminar, and I was in fact referring to a book that had already been announced: Occult Bestiary, which will be harboring a lot of the creatures cut from Occult Adventures.
Erik and Jason just forgot the book had already been announced, thus the initial confusion...
Richard, how exactly does one vocalize the noise "m'nar"?
It starts with more of a capital, stentorian "M," short and clipped and popped off the lips with a slightly elevated pitch, followed by a sleazy, drawling exhalation of the "aaaaaaaaaaaaaaar!" (rhymes with car), all done in a 'where the hell is the British backwater this is guy from anyway?' accent.
He's going to be playing an American Gunslinger. Thank you for your help guys. :)
If he's playing a gunslinger from Earth, I think a magic item shortage for the PC is the last of your problems. The adventure is lousy with machine guns, mortars, grenades, flamethrowers, and practically unlimited ammunition. Jus' sayin'. =-)
PS: But just to review, the pale snipers in G1 have 3 +1 rifles and one has a sniper's helmet, the four C3 locations each have a Maxim of suppressive fire, Lavrenti in E2 has 6 dimensional grenades, a +2 Nagant M1895 revolver, a belt of incredible dexterity +4 , and some other goodies. There is PLENTY in there to outfit an enterprising gunslinger.
And even then, with your spreadsheets you STILL get math wrong that the players have to fix. Sometimes automating something isn't always a good thing. >.>
Are you suggesting it would be *better* if Paizo didn't have those checks and safeguards in place? Because if you think you've got problems now...
From a freelancer's perspective, it's actually quite the opposite, and a far cry from "slap a class, rinse and repeat" or "less involved" than our usual Bestiary work.
In fact, I know myself and many freelancers prefer to build from the ground up.
That's because building a monster with NPC classes is actually twice the effort. Even pre-existing monsters have to be plugged into the in-house Paizo statblock spreadsheet, so you essentially have to rebuild the monster from the ground up anyway, even if the info is already published in the base statblock.
Then you have to apply NPC levels, and make sure you use all the proper advancement rules and get the right Key Classes and, in the case of monsters with pre-existing spellcasting abilities, make sure that everything lines up and gels just so. Skills are always confusing, too. It's actually one of the less pleasant freelancing tasks, and I much prefer to build a monster from the ground up than modify an existing one. And it's twice the workload on the development side, too--the developers have to make sure the freelancer plugged in the base monster correctly, AND applied the class levels properly.
I know that's not how we all do it at home, but when you're building a book to be published, from both the freelancer and design team perspective, it's hardly a matter of 'just slapping a few class levels on 'em' and sending them off to the printer.
I was wrong. It's more of an art than a skill, really.
Think of it this way, folks.
It's as if Paizo announced a book called "Victorian Pulp Adventures," and a thread pops up proclaiming "Steampunk Coming to Pathfinder!"
Despite the designer's best efforts to clarify that the book isn't, in fact, drawing from the steampunk genre: "We won't be doing clockwork men, but you might get Frankenstein. Steam-power and gears won't really be a thing, but vril might! You won't be seeing monocled villains in gear-festoooned top hats and soot-covered goggles with crazy steam cannons in airships, but you might get some From Hell-inspired secret society intrigue!" people still persist:
"So, steampunk, right?"
And no. That would not be accurate. To really push down this yellow brick road, "psionics" are analogous to "steampunk" in this conception (it's a later sci-fi interpretation of a previous historical period's beliefs), and we're going the other way, thanks, and hopscotching one genre to get at the root. *Not that there's anything wrong with steampunk or psionics, mind you.*
Related genres? Yes? Some of the same basic elements, used different ways? Yes. Two different wellsprings of inspiration, even if one is inspired by the other? Yes. Yes. Yes. Exactly.
***Please note this is an analogy, and this analogy should not be overly-construed to mean that Occult Adventures is Paizo's "Victorian Pulp" hardcover. It is not. Wellsprings of information translated into fantasy realms, folks. =-)
I still don't understand why they are using the term "Occult" when the book is about psionics.
It's because the book isn't about "psionics." I invite you and others to read my previous post on the historical use of that term and why what we're doing isn't that.
In short, this book is drawing from a different wellspring of inspiration, particularly the Victorian occult revival as embodied by the Golden Dawn, Theosophy, Freemasonry, A∴A∴, Hermeticism, and Modern Spiritualism. As you'll find on the other side of that link,"psionics" is a loaded term with the baggage of not only a later 20th-century age more characterized by the New Age movement, Neo-paganism, and period sci-fi, but also the 3.5 era of living crystals, blurred disciplines, and other themes that just didn't strike us as the sorts of topics we wanted to tackle in this book. And another publisher already did a stand-up job adapting material using those themes, so we're opening up entirely new realms of possibilities here.
And 8th Dwarf--while we can never discount the insane scribblings and twisted ambitions of my listed peers, I know of no such plans at the moment for such a setting, though whispered vows would strike me dead if I did, and shared. =-)
Sorry, Icehawk--you're just the second poster on this page alone that's jumped to the mistaken conclusion that this book is a "transfer" or "copy/paste" (see here) of 3.5/DSP psionic rules. Which, to be fair, started with this thread's mistaken assumption in its title.
In this case though they are't actually developing a system, they are copy/pasting a system that is 14 years old. While the mythic rules needed more playtesting before they put out an adventure, these rules have been 'play-tested' for a long time already.
If you have paid the *least* of attention to any single announcement regarding this book, then you'll realize how blatantly mistaken this comment is.
Nice! Deep Magic takes those vril concepts introduced in Sunken Empires and really explores not only the energy itself, but its utilization by PCs, which is why its so heavy on archetypes and bloodlines and absent of the items that filled Sunken Empires. And I stayed pretty pure to the core of vril's concept, which means most classes indulge in the conversion of arcane energy into the more primitive vril energy, gain some psychic sensitivity, and ultimately sacrifice versatility for blasting power.
Which, ultimately, is why it was hard for us to re-conceptualize vril for Occult Adventures. Vril isn't the most versatile of psychic energies--it's a pretty raw esoteric substance that you can use to blast things, or heal things. Once you take those concepts to their design limits without delving into territory never hinted or explored by Bulwer-Lytton, its hard to revisit without either being unnecessarily redundant or indulging in inaccurate extrapolation. And there's no lack of pulpy concepts for this book to explore--like tulpas, maybe?--that we just deferred to my previous work on vril and moved on to other topics. That's unfortunate for those that might like to have explored it for PFS characters or in games where GMs defer to Paizo-exclusive content, but beyond that, the material's not only there, but written by the same guy who would have written it for Occult Adventures. =-)
I will say this, though--you're certainly on the right track for envisioning the sort of concepts this book explores.
No intended combativeness here, RD, but it is a good chance for me to illustrate the design approach of this book via the syntax differences you illustrate.
Occult Adventures aims to capture a different mood and zeitgeist of a previous age of occult disciplines than did 3.5-era psionics. To confirm 8th Dwarf's inquiry above, I'm serving on this book both as a freelancer and in a high-level design capacity; we haven't yet settled on whether I'll be credited as "creative consultant" or "spirit guide," but you get the idea. =-)
One easy way for me to represent the difference in "psychic" and "psionic" is through one of my professional historical avenues. I'm a board member of a society called IAPSOP: the International Association for the Preservation of Spiritualist and Occult Periodicals. This is a massive online database--an archive of several million pages of digital pdfs of important and historical esoteric works, from weekly Spiritualist newspapers to rare Theosophical books, from the 18th-century right up to the copyright threshold of about the 1950s. Here's a keyword search of that database for the term "psionic." For those of you who don't feel like clicking, there are no hits in a database of millions of hardcore esoteric pages from for the term "psionic".
And that's because that term wasn't coined until 1952, and gained little to no footage among actual practitioners, but instead gained traction with science fiction writers. And that period of esoteric thought and science fiction influences is something that 1E-3.5 era psionics drew from readily, and by default, DSP.
But that's not our wellspring of inspiration with this book. We're plumbing darker depths of historic mysticisms and doctrines. And, as much as that matters, "psychic" and "occult" are the appropriate and correct descriptive buzzwords, and not terms that we view as synonymous with "psionics", the difference of which in fact serve as fantastic separators between the design intentions of this book, and what's already been explored by legacy products and DSP.
For what's it's worth, and for those reasons, there are significant differences, and they're important and distinct to the nature of this tome.
I've seen it used by people on the forums, but always in lowercase - thus, at least I presumed, not indicative of an actual name, just a descriptor. I couldn't tell you if it was by a dev or not though, and I'm too lazy to go look it up.
Wicked Woodpecker of the West wrote:
Psychic Mage - I have no idea, but you definitely should rename him, folk. I mean those two part base class names are just... wrong. Definitely wrong. Thank gods they changed Favoured Soul to Invoker.
Would have been more appropriate to have aimed for WotW's post from earlier in the thread. Still very early in the class design phase--we really want to hear what everyone wants to see in this book, but let's not jump to too many conclusions about what's set in stone when we haven't even poured the concrete yet.
Otherwise looks really good, only a bit suspicious of Spiritualist; isn't that already the Shaman's shtick?
Only marginally. The shaman is based on the concept of animism--that everything in nature, inanimate and otherwise, has a soul or a spirit: a rock, a tree, the river, lightning, wind, etc, etc, and that through magic, that spirit can be controlled, influenced, or manipulated. It's one of mankind's oldest religious doctrines, and considered primitive or unrefined in that regard, though I'd argue the opposite, as keeping track of how indigenous peoples interact in different ways with different entitles is mind-boggling, and a phenomenon anthropologists can spend their whole careers tracking.
The shaman's abilities are also confined by the base classes that make up its component parts: the oracle and the witch.
The Spiritualist, on the other hand, has no such base class boundaries to influence its creation, and is built on a more refined (or more modern, in any case) religious belief that only humans have souls. These souls persist after death, where they interact with a complicated ethereal cosmology where breaking back through the boundaries beyond the veil of death is difficult, and requires the aid of a medium and/or séance rituals to draw them forth through our world--usually by shrouding them in ectoplasm to give them physical form. This will give the Spiritualist not only a much different flavor than the Shaman, and a totally different definition of "spirits" (think this, this, or this), but also a totally unique set of abilities not defined by the abilities of its constituent classes. Stay tuned. It rocks.
For those of you who were unable to attend GenCon, the fine folks of the Know Direction Podcast were kind enough to film the announcement, which you can see here. The discussion of Occult Adventures begins at the 30:50 minute mark.
More details on classes were given in the subsequent design team seminar, so keep your eyes peeled for that one.
Was just about to post in the 2014 and Beyond thread on this topic, but since the conversation'll likely shift, I'll post my comments here instead:
I am incredibly excited to be involved with this book on such a high level creatively, and grateful to Erik and the design team for having me in the fold. It's funny how full circle it all is, really. The germ of this book's ideas was conceived at PaizoCon 2013, and born exactly one year ago at GenCon, so it was only fitting to return there to see what the design team was making of our bizarre Theosophical inspirations, Millerite musings, crazed occult ramblings, and ideas collected from dark seances and ghostly whispers over the course of the year.
After convening with Jason, Logan, Stephen, and Mark at our GenCon dinner, I can only echo Erik's sentiments--all of them--and let you guys know that I was positively giddy with the new class designs and the work they are doing to make this smorgasbord of occult inspirations a cohesive reality. I was already excited after meeting with Stephen in Tulsa and talking about all these secrets in the dark corners of an underground bar, and now that I've seen what the whole team is up to, I know you're going to see some incredible new ground broken with what we have in store for this book. Some of the speculation here doesn't get everything that was actually leaked right (when the seminar videos inevitably go up you'll want to pay close attention to Jason's comments on the proposed Mystic, for example), but Paizo's take on this subject--starting with the base class designs and running right on up through incredible new systems and to the last page of the hardcover--is just going to be amazing, and positively dripping with theme and flavor that explores some great new territory in our favorite game.
I'm supremely grateful to be that manifest spirit Erik conjured to whisper haunting occult inspirations into the design team's séance, so thank you to the guys for having me in the circle. Now, if you'll excuse me, lots of things need tending to here after a week-long absence. My seance chamber's suffered a flood of ectoplasm, there's a guy here in strange robes telling me my chakras are all out of alignment, my akashic record has a smeared autograph that might read "Jason Bulmahn,"and the golden calf in my office hardly tolerates a week without sacrifice, so there's work to be done!
Hahaha, well, there's that. But this particular method doesn't need tools. AND it's historically accurate.
You guys, there has been a low-level (and non-magical!) mechanism for communicating with haunts for several years now, published first in the Haunts of Golarion article in Haunting of Harrowstone and revisited in Occult Mysteries. Rules (scroll down to "Investigating Haunts") for speaking with haunts in the form of rapping spirits (primarily to open up roleplaying opportunities for PCs to discern the keys to laying them to rest) have been around for a while, without that pesky 4th-level spell requirement. Jus' sayin'. ;-)
Well, folks, you're in luck! Since Charlie Bell's at PaizoCon keeping the Black Rock wiped clean of green blood at Daigle and I's annual event (which I am sadly missing), I'm going to step in here and show you what YOU might be missing if you haven't yet downloaded Wayfinder #11.
Charlie and Damien McGurell's article, "The Imperial Army of Her Infernal Majestrix," shows you a little glimpse of what you might expect from Armies of Golarion should we ever convince the powers-that-be to make it a reality: a smorgasbord of Chelish units and diabolical squads (9 total!) for the UC mass combat rules, and, most exciting for me, TWO NEW TROOP STATBLOCKS: the Chelish Infantry Troop (CR 10) and the Lemure Mob (CR 11).
I know who I'll be hoping gets assigned to freelance on AoG if it happens!
My home campaign from which the troop subtype was adapted is heavy on PC-versus-troops engagement. Or, rather, the flexibility of the system allows for PCs to interact on a larger battlefield with no change to their statblocks, which was the whole point. We shift rounds between the larger troop-vs-troop action of the battlefield and PC-vs-troops/leaders in in-between rounds. It works fantastically.
doc the grey wrote:
So quick aside, am I the only one who's a little sad to not see the spirit planchettes reprinted here for the spiritualism section?
No, you aren't the only one a little saddened over that omission, especially considering I not only wrote the Spiritualism chapter, but that planchettes are my specialty. They were set for inclusion, but they're a high-wordcount magic item statblock, so I totally get how they'd be an easy cut in development. The trade-off is that great piece of art with Imrijka rockin' a talking board, though!
PoV, my research for the book indicated what DaemonAngel already stated--that some Mark Vs made landfall in 1918, and thus were fair game for inclusion. Back when the adventure debuted, I was cocked-and-loaded to tackle these detailed specifics in the event I got entangled in any similar historical questions/debates (like my previous one where I was called out for the Western-like architecture of the Orthodox cathedral, and submitted the exact Russian church, in-the-same-region, on which the RMD cathedral was based to show I *did* know exactly what I was doing) but, unfortunately, we've added a toddler to the family since the adventure's debut, and half a dozen backup drives, and I'll be hard-pressed to dig up those references and notes. But they are around here somewhere if you want to hear what historical sources I was working from for the included elements. It just might take me some time to find and post.
Getting those historical facts straight was very important to me in the writing of this adventure, and I didn't leave many holes in the boat, as it were. I didn't want any potential inaccuracies to be a distraction to WWI history buffs who might read or play in the adventure, and was very, very careful with my research and inclusions of stuff like this, even as contradictory as some primary source material can be.
How about the Order of the Palatine Eye? Is the info more-or-less a reprint from Carrion Crown?
Less. As author of both, I can tell you that the contents here summarize what you've seen while adding a lot a new angles and aspects, including new exclusive abilities for brethren and rules for PC membership you've never seen. And what Irnk said, above. ;-)
Is that your explanation Buri or is it something you heard from JJ or the author of the dead heart of Xin? (or someone like that)
That's Buri's explanation, and it's good! If that works for you in your game, and you want to focus on Lissala, run with it.
Though the disjunction attempt is something James added in development, and not my creation, I can say with great confidence that the consequences were not intended to display Xin's fracturing relationship with Lissala. And I know there are a lot of questions about Lissala that you guys want answered, and that's likely because we didn't spend a whole lot of time clarifying Xin's personal relationship with her in this volume as anything more than her then-most-powerful worshiper. You wanted answers, and you got teased with animating Lissala statues and deadly traps. Hahaha.
Because Xin-as-worshiper is the view I took going in to write this one: Lissala is Xin's patron, but he's not her priest--and James and I never had any deep discussions about how their relationship would manifest in the adventure. Which is why I'm pretty confident the ability disruption fromt he disjunction wasn't intended to be a flavorful expression of Xin's fractured homage to Lissala. But it *does* work, so if you like that explanation, use it, but be sure it is something your PC can witness on some level (because if you can't tell, showing PCs background info normally only available to the GM was a HUGE goal writing this adventure). Maye they see an image of the goddess, or hear her scornful voice screeching from the feedback in retribution for Xin's actions. Or something.
As for the author's intentions: One theme Dead Heart of Xin does explore with some frequency is the amount of personal power Xin has invested in his creations. His ghost is able to haunt the constructs he built, and there's a spark of connectivity lingering between he and his sentient crystal palace. There's also a lot of resonant feedback between him and his most powerful creation--the Sihedron. I'm not sure where Major Blackhart got the idea above that the Sihedron was a team effort, because it is quite the opposite, with personal investments of arcane power more in line with a Sauron-forges-the-One-Ring capacity. And, like Sauron, when you destroy the item into which he has so much invested power, there are severe consequences.
In short, the intention is more...secular. =-)
The fifth-round combat action is a fantastic dramatic turn for the combat, displaying Xin's madness and jealousy ("If I can't have it, no one can!") but if it doesn't work for your group's playstyle and you don't want to put your antagonist at such risk in the finale, then have Xin just keep on knocking heads around! He certainly has some super-cool options at his (its?) disposal, with no shortage of awesome stuff to try that shows his incredible power to PCs. Personally, I'd reserve the disjunction attempt for when the PCs find themselves on the ropes or outmatched. It'd shake things up and give them another shot at taking him down.
The druid in my party transformed himself in a huge air elemental right before the trenches (and after the mortar troops shoot then (they set off a mine) he decided to use his whirlwind ability to suck up the troops... and we stopped to play in that moment. are the troops affected by this ability?
Well now, that *is* a tricky one.
Whirlwinds can only affect creatures one or more size category smaller than itself, and while the troop takes up the space of a gargantuan creature, its composite nature means it only has a true size category of medium.
So the troop is definitely affected. And with the size of a Huge air elemental (50 ft) there's more than enough room to fit all the composite creatures if that were called into question. So give the troop its save as normal against the damage and the suspension effect (it makes its saves on a 8+, so it's in good shape) and run with it. And don't forget that even if immobilized due to the suspension, the troops still get actions and attacks (ouch!) that they're likely to focus on their tormentor. And that grenade volley is a move action, sooooo... =-)
As WB says, I'm pretty sure every single vril thing in the book is from my pen, but I'm also particularly proud of a couple of other contributions in the spell chapter: skittering vermin and voracious vermin, not the least because it allowed me to finally use the word "varmint" in an RPG product.
And as soon as they were both published, I promptly asked my GM if my character could research them and add them to my spell list.
Freelancing does have its benefits. =-)
Evil Midnight Lurker wrote:
Why are the two vermin spells on the vril spell list? They don't seem to share any thematics, and they aren't even transmutations as all other vril magic seems to be.
I *bet* I know why without even looking.
My turnover included a few spells in addition to the vril-themed selections, and two of them, skittering vermin and voracious vermin, made the cut for inclusion in the book. While they weren't intended as vril spells, and they shouldn't be on that list, looks like they crept in there during development, likely due to an erroneous-but-understandable assumption that since they came out of a document that was 95% vril-related, they were intended as vril.
So, strike those two from the list. Every vril spell has vril in the spell name.
ANOTHER LIST CORRECTION: There are no witch vril spells, and vril refraction is erroneously listed as a witch spell on that list, although it is only sorcerer/wizard, as a glimpse at the spell itself reveals. Looks like compounded error from those vermin spells, which are on the witch spell list.
doc the grey wrote:
Does this add to or expand upon the vril technology laid out in sunken empires?
Doc, Deep Magic adds to the vril of Sunken Empires in a BIG way. Rather than focusing on items, however, it turns the lens to the wielders and channelers of vril, with several archetypes, feats, bloodlines, and a host of accompanying spells that allow casters to transmute the arcane energy of 'modern' spells into the raw, primordial force known as vril. Assuming everything made it in (waiting on my copy, too!), then there's also a sidebar addressing how vril wielders can recharge the vril batteries and items from Sunken Empires.